The transfer from the airport to the ship didn't go well. RCCL had provided taxis, all the drivers were not waiting for us so we had to search for the missing one, he was sat in his car listening to his radio! The drive was scary, very fast and in my view dangerous.
The check in was smooth and easy, no problems at all.
This was our 5th sailing on Brilliance and I am sad to say it is probably our last. The experience just was not what we have been used to. First the positives:
The staff really are excellent and try to do their very best, mostly smiling and willing to help whenever they can. They all seem to work very hard.
The nightly shows were generally very good, personally I would avoid the 'Tango Buenos Aires' not my taste. It was good to have the shows at 8:45 & 10:45.
The gym was good, plenty of equipment but busy in sea days, could have been cooler though.
The food was good, when I found something I fancied (see below).
Not helped by there being 600 kids on board, the service levels struggled. We were on My Time Dining, this should be renamed to 'Their Time Dining', there were huge queues most night, on our first night we waited for over an hour. We only resolved this by having a permanent booked table for 8:30, hardly My Time! We often waited for a long time to have our order taken and then for the food to arrive, they would have been able to seat people much quicker if they'd had the staff to serve everyone and lessen the queues.
Getting served with a drink in the evening was very hard, quite often we had to go to the bar ourselves and even then it was a long wait. Sometimes it was easier just to go to bed!
The food selection was poor, there were 4 soups each night for starters, with little else, the mains had two curries each night, great if you like them but a limited choice for those that don't. The food was good but the selection was poor. Same in the Windjamer, poor choice.
On sea days getting a sun lounger was almost impossible, we had two sea days at the end of the cruise and we just didn't bother, not helped with the kids on board but not a great experience. We were in a suite and they used to have a reserved section for suite guests but this has now gone.
The sauna and stam room was a disgrace. No locker keys were available, apparently waiting for an upgrade, not sure I believed that. The sauna was grubby, wooden slats were secured with steel screws instead of wooden dowels, there were loose planks and splintered wood, very dangerous. The atmosphere was spoilt with lighting that would have been more suited to a factory. The steam room just wasn't steamy, completely useless.
We were in an Owners Suite but I'm not very clear what advantage we had from that. We had a drinks package so no advantage from the Conceirge Lounge nor from any other privileges, the room was bigger but that was all.
The room was tired, plenty of storage and a nice seating area. The bed was comfortable. The bathroom was large but in awful taste and in need of a refit. The balcony was not very big and not very private. The canapés every night were dropped, just on a formal night now.
The internet package was useless, very slow and not always available throughout the ship, it also dropped out often.
As a regular cruiser I am fed up of the usual Florence, Rome & Naples ports of call, the smaller places such as Kotor etc are more to my liking. The last two sea days seemed to be a waste, we seemed to take a long time sailing past Sicily, I think they were wasting time, pity we couldn't call in somewhere, even for half a day.
If you are reasonably fit I would walk into Venice, head for the station and then follow the crowds. It is a good way to see Venice and you pass over many bridges etc.
We did enjoy the cruise but Brilliance is not what it was and RCCL seems a poorer product. Perhaps they've put all their effort in the new mammoth ships, if so it's a shame as they have probably lost us as a customer, pity as we've just reached Diamond Plus!
The room was tired, plenty of storage and a comfortable sofa and bed. The bathroom was large but again tired and ghastly decor in the bathroom.
We didn't have time to visit Barcelona on this trip but we have been before and it is worth doing if you have time.
Not much to do here expect sit in a cafe. You can take a train to Monaco.
Our first time with Cruising Excursions and it was very good. There isn't much at Pisa other than the tower so try and combine it with Florence if you can.View All 274 Florence & Pisa Tour Reviews
We went to Herculaneum, a smaller site but very good.
Very busy, walk in if you can, a great way to see Venice. When you leave the ship, head for the large bridge and cross to your right heading for the station. From the station you'll see a large foot bridge, cross this and follow the crowds. There are signs for St Marks Square etc.
First time and loved it, we did a tour with Cruising Excursions and it was great, the guide was a real character. Ravenna is beautiful.,